Alexander Earns His Way

Posted Sep 7, 2011

After enduring the at times overwhelming grind of his first full NFL training camp and the heated competition for jobs at his position, receiver Danario Alexander is truly grateful to be a Ram again.

“It’s a big relief,” Alexander said. “This is my job and this is what I love to do. I love playing for the Rams. For the coaches to let me be on this team, it’s a great honor for me.”

Alexander was one of seven wideouts to survive the final round of cuts the Rams made over the weekend and tie up his spot on the 53-man roster. The battle for Alexander was and probably always will be a bit more difficult than it was for his six colleagues in the receiver corps.

After enduring five operations on his left knee in his career, Alexander had yet to go through the pounding it can take in the long, hot days of summer training camp.

The Rams signed Alexander as an undrafted free agent last year and stashed him on the practice squad early in the season as he recovered from his fourth knee operation. That kept him from participating in camp in 2010.

This year, though, with a full offseason to train and prepare (albeit on his own), Alexander entered camp more confident in his knee than ever. What he didn’t know was how it would react upon practicing in his first training camp and the three-plus hour practices that go with it.

“It was a pretty big task,” Alexander said. “I wasn’t used to coming out here with the pounding every day on my knee. But the knee made it through it, it’s truly a blessing.”
Because of the sheer amount of procedures he’s had done on the knee, Alexander knew that he’d deal with regular swelling and fluid in the knee. At one point during camp, the soreness got bad enough that he had another MRI on the knee.

But after the results showed that he could continue playing without a sixth operation, Alexander returned to the practice field the next day. All told, he only missed about three days of practice the whole time, less than most of the other wideouts on the roster.

“I am always treating it and stuff like that, staying on top of it,” Alexander said. “I am never just forgetting about it. I am always staying on top of it.”

Upon the start of practice for the regular season opener, Alexander finds relief in the lessened on field work load that comes with those practices.

“I am able to manage my knee throughout the year,” Alexander said. “Practice is a whole lot easier than what camp is so it’s a good thing for me.”

Now, Alexander can focus on how he can help the Rams on the field and not worry about where he stands on the depth chart. At 6’5, 217 pounds, Alexander brings an element of size and speed that no other wideout possesses.

Based on his ability to fight for his spot, he’s got the heart to match. 

“I am a fighter,” Alexander said. “A lot of guys would have taken a lot more days off than what I did. For me to go out there with a sore knee for several days and still fight through it, it shows what kind of heart I’ve got.”

The hometown favorite from his days at Mizzou, Alexander is looking forward to getting back on the field in a meaningful game against the Eagles on Sunday. He’s also looking forward to seeing one of his old pals and former Tigers teammates, Jeremy Maclin.

Before Maclin became a star at Mizzou, Alexander had actually beaten him out for the starting job. Then, Alexander suffered a knee injury on the same turf he now calls home at the Edward Jones Dome. The duo is now close friends and Maclin is starring for the Eagles.

It should make for a fun Mizzou reunion for fans and alumni at the Edward Jones Dome.

“That’s going to be a good deal,” Alexander said. “St. Louis, for him this is home and for both of us to come from Mizzou we’ll have a nice fan base in the stands. I look forward to it.”

PLAYFUL POPPINGA: The Rams have a pretty colorful locker room full of guys with interesting stories and personalities. But middle linebacker James Laurinaitis said his new running mate on the strong side, Brady Poppinga, might be the most interesting of them all.

Poppinga signed with the Rams in the offseason and is poised to be the starter on the strong side next to Laurinaitis this year.

“He just brings a different kind of energy,” Laurinaitis said. “I think he marches to his own drum. He’s very respectful, good guy to be around and he’s really into football. We get along great. He’s just different, you know, in a good way.”

Poppinga is a bit of a live wire and likes to play jokes almost as much as he likes football. Make no mistake, he loves to get after it on the field though and is as tough as they come.

After cutting open his leg during the preseason, he had stitches and was back on the field without missing any time. 

“You want him on your team in a dark alley because you don’t know what he’s going to do,” Laurinaitis said. “I want to be in a dark alley with Brady, whether I’m on his team or not. Something is going to happen and there’s no way of predicting what’s going to happen.”

INJURY REPORT: The Rams had just one change to the injury report Wednesday, two days removed from returning to practice on Monday.

Defensive end Eugene Sims, who sat out Monday’s workout with an oblique injury, was back at practice. He feels pain when he runs down on kickoffs but was able to tough through most of the workout. The Rams remain hopeful he’ll be able to get to the game on Sunday.

Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui sat out practice again as he continues to recover from a calf injury. His situation remains day to day. He’ll be monitored the next couple of days in hopes he can also play on Sunday.

“He’s trying to get as many mental reps as he can and then we’ll see what happens at the end of the week,” coach Steve Spagnuolo said. “We’re trying to get him there…we’re going to be really careful with this one.”

RAM BITS: The Rams have officially waived tight end Demarco Cosby and signed tight endBen Guidugli to the practice squad...Spagnuolo said Danny Amendola is the team's emergency third quarterback behind Sam Bradford and A.J. Feeley.